Ask any consumer today what grabs their attention or where they get their information and their answers will most likely differ from what they may have been 10 or 15 years ago. As technology and the variety of different media outlets have grown exponentially, many consumers have shifted their attention from more traditional media forms, such as magazines, newspapers, and stationary billboards to more modern mediums like social media, web-based outlets, and digital signage. While these more modern outlets often provide the exact same information as the ones that came before them, they have the ability to offer curious consumers the opportunity to learn and more easily engage with the information they are provided.
As this shift has occurred and consumer preferences have changed, so have the ways in which businesses successfully inform and market to them. While there’s no denying that the more traditional forms of promotion and advertising are effective for reaching consumers, digital signage has the ability to provide them with a unique user experience from the start—driving awareness, offering an interactive experience, and providing a seamless, user-friendly interface throughout the entire interaction.
Curious how digital signage could change the advertising game for your business or organization? Keep reading.
Living in the age of technology that we do, consumers are easily captivated by almost anything with a digital screen. Think about it–if you’re walking down the street or through a mall, are you more likely to notice the print display hanging in the storefront or the interactive digital display? Probably the digital display. Digital signage does so much more than just grab customers’ attention, though, it is also an effective tool for sharing information and driving consumer awareness on the path to purchase.
Offers an Interactive Experience
While the aforementioned more traditional forms of promotion and advertising have undoubtedly withstood the test of time, today’s consumers have grown to expect immediate gratification—including quick answers to their questions. Many digital signage models feature an interactive touch screen, which provides consumers access to numerous different layers of information—extending far beyond what meets the eye upon first glance. Digital signage can also include VoIP and SMS Text Messaging capabilities—enabling consumers to call businesses directly from the kiosk or text information from the screen to their personal cell phone to refer back to later on.
Provides a User-Friendly Interface
In addition to providing an eye-catching display, Interactive digital signage also offers a user-friendly interface–complete with simple menu options and navigation features. From the most tech-savvy to the least, consumers of all kinds can interact with and absorb information from the display. Similarly, with ADA compliance, Voice Over IP (VoIP), and Telecommunication Device for the Deaf (TDD) integration capabilities, digital signage can accommodate consumers of all abilities.
Not only is digital signage easy for consumers to use, one of the most significant benefits for businesses and organizations is that the content is easy for them to update as well. Did the time change for an event? No problem. Just implemented updates for a product line? Get the word out! Once they have finalized the changes that need to be made, businesses and organizations can simply log into the back-end of their platform and add, remove, or change any of their content, all with the click of a few buttons.
Can Include Revenue-Generating Advertising
While some businesses and organizations choose to solely focus their digital signage solution on their own company, others have implemented revenue-generating platforms on which other non-competing businesses or organizations in the area can advertise as well. This is an especially useful option when looking for a way to offset the initial cost of deployment.
As consumers have become increasingly technology-driven, digital signage has emerged as an effective advertising and information sharing platform. As a result, this transformation has successfully enhanced the ways in which businesses and organizations promote themselves to consumers.
To learn more about Meridian’s self-service digital signage hardware and software solutions, visit our digital signage page.
Which costs more, complying with new regulations or not complying and hoping for the best?
The question is particularly relevant when it comes to kiosk deployers complying with Europay, Mastercard and Visa (EMV) regulations. Invest in upgrading equipment, or run the risk of being hit with chargebacks and fines in the event of fraud?
Although the lack of clear incentives or financial impacts have prompted some to skip those upgrades, it may be wiser to begin the planning process now. When the inevitable kiosk fraud case makes headlines, it will likely set off a compliance rush that may leave some deployers waiting months or years to get their devices upgraded and certified.
Meeting EMV deadlines
The Wikipedia entry for EMV defines it as “a payment method based upon a technical standard for smart payment cards and for payment terminals and automated teller machines that can accept them.” EMV “smart cards” store their data on integrated circuits in addition to the traditional magnetic stripes.
The Path to EMV
CC readers as keyboard wedge. They take input & then act like a keyboard echoing out the numbers thru port.
Credit companies keep data on unprotected and unencrypted servers.
Europe sees better way & requires solid encryption paired with a PIN (aka Chip and Pin).
The US defers requiring that for time being and does not follow Europe’s lead.
Growth of Internet and rise of credit cards Mastercard and VISA in US agree that encryption is a good thing. Maybe even a PIN…
EMV liability timetable put in motion. ATMs hugely affected (in US only) as are retailers.
CC readers add encryption in advance. Magtek and IDTech good examples. Instead of open Keyboard Wedges we now have encryption capabilities. No chip, though, and no PIN.
Deadline nears – everybody knows it is time to use chips, assuming liability for not doing so is above profit threshold. Somebody that does relatively small transactions will never be a target for stolen credit cards (Redbox e.g.). Does liability outweigh cost of upgrading, and affecting bottom line and potentially share price?
Signature used or zip code as presumed id token.
Data systems becoming more secure with better firewalls, less physical access, and encryption but most are not.
Big incidents (Target) increases pressure to upgrade all systems. Target’s backend was entry point via a vendor with free malware.
Nowadays EMV means getting a chip reader. It means securing the back end (ask Equifax…).
It used to mean signature too but no more.
Does not mean a PIN. With some consumers carrying multiple cards, it is impossible for them to use a secure PIN for each card because they’ll never remember.
Card data remains relatively safe on the front end (with CHIP) though there are many who still swipe (40%?) and IT Departments pay more attention to security on back end. One could argue penalties for breaches be increased as money is best motivator. See HIPAA privacy.
Because the chips are supposedly impossible to clone, smart cards offer vastly improved security compared with magstripe-only cards. But while smart cards include a magstripe along with the integrated circuit for backwards compatibility, the improved security only applies when used with an EMV-compliant card reader.
Although EMV compliance is an ongoing process in the United States, EMV technology has been standard in Europe for years with chip-and-PIN standard and contactless payment cards exploding.
“The card I use for business is probably 60% chip and pin 40% contactless by number of transactions, and I don’t think I’ve ever been asked to confirm a contactless payment by providing my pin,” said Nigel Seed, who runs KioWare Europe now. “A lot of people simply mistrust contactless and refuse to ever use it, in fact some people contact their bank and tell then to send them a replacement card without that facility, but busy metro type professionals typically do use it more than the average.”
To incentivize businesses to upgrade their card readers to EMV-compliant devices, the four major U.S. credit card issuers – Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover – established Oct. 1, 2015 as the deadline when credit card fraud liability will shift to merchants or processors if they do not have an EMV payment system ready.
If fraudulent card use occurs at a merchant that has not upgraded their equipment to EMV technology, the merchant eats the cost of the chargeback along with any fines or fees that may be levied. If that merchant’s processor has not made an EMV-compliant solution to the merchant, or if the card issuer has not issued EMV-compliant cards to its cardholders, the processor or card issuer assumes the liability.
Despite that deadline, though, deployers of self-service devices have been slow to bring those devices into compliance with EMV, in part due to the complexity and cost of upgrading. Making a kiosk or other self-service device EMV-compliant isn’t simply a matter of swapping out a card reader. Along with upgrading the payment terminal and software, other infrastructure involved in the transaction, such as data storage devices, must be upgraded as well.
EMV compliance affects all systems involved in the payment process, not just the payment terminal. Data warehouses are likely the biggest target of all and the eventual destination of data provided at a public terminal. If a retailer takes that highly encrypted data and then stores it as plain text on some in-house data warehouse that thru the vagaries of Microsoft networking is accessible via a simple vendor logging into a portal, they are vulnerable to EMV compliance issues.
In addition to upgrading hardware, compliance also involves the processor and the card issuers certifying that transactions are originating from an EMV-certified device, and that all software and middleware is PCI-DSS complaint as well as being compliant with international operability standards established by EMVCo, the consortium that manages EMV standards. That process could take several months.
What About A Pin Pad?
When do I need a PIN pad? Here are the basics:The United States has historically had two kinds of Cardholder Verification Methods (CVM); PIN for debit transactions and signature for credit transactions at attended terminals. A signature was not valid for unattended scenarios under the logic that a kiosk can’t check an ID or signature.
In recent weeks card brands declared Signature to be obsolete and optional in the United States. This really had no impact on unattended as the standard for unattended credit purchases was No CVM.
The vast majority of debit cards issued in the US are called “dual application,” meaning they also carry one of the card brand logos and as such can be used on both debit networks (with PIN) and credit networks (optional signature). Think of the phrase ”Visa check card.” The transaction is performed on the credit network, but the money really comes out of your checking account as opposed to a line of credit.
Acceptance of PIN debit at a kiosk is optional, although there are cases where acceptance of debit is beneficial, such as bill pay kiosks where transactions could be potentially very large. This would be advantageous to a bill pay kiosk businesses when you consider a debit transaction has a fixed cost, while a credit transaction has a percentage of the sale amount fee.
From the perspective of fraud protection it is sort of a non-factor because crooks don’t go around paying their bills with stolen cards. In the case of a kiosk in the mall selling $200 headphones, though, it would be advantageous from a cost of transaction perspective as well as the prevention of card fraud and product loss.
Deciding if having a PIN pad on the kiosk is right for you really comes down to a few factors:
What is the average sale amount, and considering that amount does the potential savings of the fixed cost of a debit transaction vs the % cost of a credit transactions justify the increased hardware cost of adding a PIN pad for debit acceptance? Essentially, what is the ROI of the PIN pad and ability to accept debit?
What is the risk and true cost of loss of product at my kiosk, and does that warrant the cost of a PIN pad?
As an example, let’s say a photo kiosk sale amount maxes out at $50, and using an estimated credit transactional cost of 3.5% as a baseline, transactions will cost $1.75 to run as credit. Given debit transactions typically hover around $1.25/$1.50, the outcome of the financial decision tree says maybe the increased solution cost of the kiosk with PIN pad isn’t showing a strong ROI, or at least one that cannot be realized in the short term.
Furthermore, the risk and cost of lost product is low, and it will take selling a lot of prints to make up for the cost of the PIN pad. In this example it would make sense to forgo PIN debit acceptance at the kiosk and instead process debit cards over the credit network.
“Each payment processor generally drives their own certifications, so timing varies pretty dramatically between payment processing certification teams,” said George Hudock, who handles business development with Datacap Systems, a developer of integrated payment systems.
“Most kiosk providers will use a third-party payments solution to avoid the on-going EMV certifications and maintenance, so most are able to avoid the EMV certifications directly,” Hudock said. “However, EMV certifications for unattended devices generally take 3-5 months once queued.”
Although it’s difficult to tell how many non-EMV-compliant kiosks are out in the field, experts say 50-60 percent of point-of-sale terminals aren’t EMV compliant. It’s likely that the percentage of non-EMV-compliant kiosks is similar. Still, experts say it could be several years before the vast majority of self-service devices in the marketplace are brought in line with EMV regulations.
Overall, the EMV migration in the United States is proceeding as well and as speedily as anyone could reasonably expect considering the somewhat tortured circumstances in which it was launched and the technical complexity and costs of its implementation, said Leland Englebardt, Practice Leader, Financial Services at New York-based UpshotAdvisors.
“Remember, it was not long after Dodd-Frank was enacted, which required many significant changes in payment card infrastructure, economics and rules,” Englebardt said.
“We are beginning to see the results in less counterfeit card fraud, which is good for everybody,” he said. “However, the security of EMV is materially enhanced by adding point-to-point tokenization and encryption. As cyber-crime is now the most active and challenging area of payments fraud, it’s possible that in the near future we will see more mandates and/or liability shifts for those technologies.”
EMV confusion still reigns
Part of what seems to be hampering EMV compliance is a lack of clarity on the part of deployers over where kiosks fall under EMV regulations. Is there a difference between attended and unattended devices? What about those that accept or dispense cash?
According to Visa’s Transaction Acceptance Device Guide Version 3.1, the term Unattended Cardholder Activated Terminal (UCAT) refers to an acceptance device managed by a merchant that dispenses goods or services, at which the card and cardholder are present, but the functions and services are provided without the assistance of an attendant to complete the transaction. These devices include cardholder activated fuel pumps, self-service vending units, and self-service payment devices in parking garages or at parking meters.
Devices that support cash dispensing and provide goods and services must comply with the Visa rules and regulations appropriate to the transaction:
• When dispensing cash, the device is considered an ATM and, therefore, must adhere to the Visa rules and regulations for ATMs.
• When dispensing goods or services, the device is considered a UCAT and must adhere to the Visa rules and regulations for unattended purchases.
Although unattended devices (e.g., ATMs, UCATs) may dispense goods and services as well as cash, transactions involving a purchase with cash back are not allowed. In other words, an unattended device may dispense either cash or goods and services in a single transaction but not both. In addition, UCATs that dispense scrip are not addressed because the Visa rules and regulations prohibit Visa card products from being used for scrip transactions. (Scrip is a two-part paper receipt redeemable for goods, services or cash.)
Attended Cardholder Activated Terminals, such as self-checkout terminals in supermarkets, are not considered UCATs and therefore are not required to meet UCAT requirements.
The guide also mentions a third category, “semi-attended,” to describe Semi-Attended Cardholder Activated Terminals in the Europe Region.
If you want to benefit from low cost EFT like Verifone VX820 series (<200USD) and you want to install in Semi-Attended environment you should cover unneeded and unwanted functions by a plastic form.Pyramid did it for instance in the McD Europe case. The customer can benefit from the low cost EFT and the “white” form embeds the EFT in an elegant and ergonomic way and in same time it covers the magnetic card function on the side of VX820 which would be not needed and would only make customers unsecure which way to use the device. With our embedded form, that ensures that the customer uses or NFC or Chip Card function.
“This has resulted in self-service manufacturers creating a third optional semi-attended solution, in conjunction with VISA, for those situations,” said Frieder Hansen, co-CEO of Germany’s Pyramid Computer. “Instead, for example, a plain IPP350 or 820 being used (attended), or for purposes of a UCAT using Ingenico 250 series, the third solution would be using an inspectable key-lockable option with a terminal like a 350.”
There is a perception that kiosks are always considered unattended from an EMV perspective, said Allen Friedman, VP of Payment Solutions at Ingenico Group.
“This is not always true,” Friedman said. “Some self-service implementations in attended environments where employee assistance is available, like at the grocery store, can be considered attended devices. If there is any time period where no assistance is available, then it is considered an unattended solution.”
There is also a card brand requirement for unattended devices to make a printed receipt available to cardholders for transactions above $15, Friedman said.
“Designs for kiosks intended to provide merchandise or services above that amount should include a receipt printer with their models to insure compliance,” he said.
Taking the risk
Although kiosk deployers are still asking for non-EMV compliant solutions, kiosk manufacturers seem to be coming down firm on needing EMV-compliant payment solutions for any custom deployment. New projects are likely to take EMV into account throughout the process.
On the other hand, some deployers are likely to stick with non-EMV compliant kiosks to the end of their lifespan.
“Deployers aren’t as educated on this as they need to be,” Laura Miller with KioWare said. “They think it doesn’t apply to them, aren’t aware of the risk or think that the risk isn’t high enough to warrant the additional cost.”
EMV-certified options are also still relatively limited, so kiosk providers’ preferred payments providers may not yet have an EMV-certified option for unattended applications.
“Kiosks are also expensive to upgrade to EMV due to a required change in casework to accommodate the updated EMV device,” Hudock said.
EMV & Cloud Services
EMV credit transactions thru the cloud makes things easier. Keyboard wedge changed to HID changed to USB and now changes to Ethernet. A hospital environment with a copay for example in old days would require direct integration between the check-in device and the credit terminal. Which payment processor becomes an issue along with who writes the code.Nowadays you can offload the credit portion via cloud services and all that is required on the check-in or check-out terminal is simple HTTP and JSON call for authorization. The credit device takes over, conducts the transaction (thru preferred provider) via EMV certified kernel and then notifies the check-in/check-out that the transaction is complete.You eliminate the development cost, and the credit devices can be leased monthly to reduce the upfront cost of going EMV.
You do need an ethernet connection though.
“The kiosk industry is more fragmented than retail/restaurant,” Hudock said. “This means that there are often multiple constituents involved in delivering the kiosk that need to be involved in the upgrade process, including hardware OEMs, software developers, payments middleware providers, payment processors and installers. Kiosk upgrades tend to take a little more time and planning than retail/restaurant due to the number of involved parties.”
Some of the reluctance for kiosk deployers to adopt EMV is understandable. If the kiosk is near the end of its life cycle, a deployer may choose to ride it out until it’s time to replace the entire device. In addition, the relatively low transaction averaged for many kiosks translates to less overall chargeback risk, which in turn means less incentive to upgrade.
Should a deployer choose to skip making their units EMV compliant, though, at the very least they should place additional attention on security to minimize the possibility of fraud. Those steps could include data clearing technology and secure browsers, end session on a particular page, session timeouts and so forth. In addition, point-to-point encryption and tokens are valuable security measures. P2PE ensures that card data is encrypted at the time of card insertion and maintains that encryption until it’s routed offsite. Tokens ensure that card data is not stored locally for voids or recurring transactions.
“There is less risk of internal compromise of data for a kiosk due to the hardened nature of the casework, but the largest card data security problem facing kiosks is likely card skimmers,” Hudock said. “Because these are generally placed on top of an existing reader, the card is skimmed before security measures like encryption or EMV would have any impact. Merchants need to periodically check their kiosks to confirm that they haven’t been tampered with.”
And as EMV cards and terminals become ubiquitous, banks’ authorization parameters may evolve to limit fallback approvals.
“A kiosk operator who doesn’t upgrade to EMV may find it harder and harder to get a positive mag stripe authorization,” Englebardt said.
“Notwithstanding the liability shift, banks seek to avoid the risk of counterfeit card chargebacks that trigger replacement/reissuance costs and cardholder attrition,” he said. “So revenue erosion is an additional long term business risk for kiosk operators not adopting EMV.”
At the end of the day, though, what’s likely to motivate deployers to upgrade their devices will be the news of a major chargeback and fine associated with a device that wasn’t EMV-compliant.
“There are beginning to be some fines but not publicized and none that would be considered punitive by any measure,” said Geoff Leopold,division manager with Heartland Payment Systems. Still, it’s likely just a matter of time before a major incident occurs.
In addition, some payment processors have begun charging their customers EMV non-compliance fees. Those fees can vary, coming as a flat monthly or annual charge or a percentage of the deployer’s processing volume.
“The bottom line is that processors and banks want you to move to EMV equipment because it’s more secure for everyone,” write Ellen Cunningham in an article on the website CardFellow.com. “If you’ve been holding off on EMV-capable equipment you may want to think about upgrading before more processors begin imposing expensive fees.”
How EMV works.
EMVCo manages EMV specifications and related testing processes. This includes, but is not limited to, card and terminal evaluation, security evaluation, and management of interoperability issues. EMVCo is a consortium with control split equally among Visa, MasterCard, JCB, American Express, China UnionPay, and Discover.
US Payments Forum — The U.S. Payments Forum (the “Forum”) is a cross-industry body focused on addressing issues that require broad cooperation and coordination across many constituents in the payments industry. Part of Secure Technology Alliance (see below).
The EMV Connection website provides up-to-date EMV migration information and educational resources. One of those is Chip Cards Facts-at-a-Glance. It is now US Payments Forum.
EMV Resources page of the Card Acquiring Service (CAS). Offers information and links to helpful EMV information, including the federal government’s move to EMV chip and PIN-enabled card acceptance.
Secure Technology Alliance — The Alliance brings together leading providers and adopters of end-to-end security solutions designed to protect privacy and digital assets in a variety of vertical markets.
With kiosks now becoming an integral part of society, and poised to take an even more dominant position in the marketplace this year, it might be interesting to take a few minutes to pay homage to the pioneers of kiosk software.
And while it’s impossible to name every player who made their mark in the early days of the kiosk, there are a few whose impact still resonates throughout the industry.
Of course, one of the key drivers behind the development of kiosk software was the explosion of computer industry, beginning in the late 1970s. While computers had been around for decades, products such as the MITS Altair 8800, the IMSAI 8080 and the Apple 1 not only made computers more affordable than their predecessors, they gave birth to the concept of desktop computers.
And with the subsequent release of the spreadsheet program VisiCalc and the word processing program WordMaster, later WordStar, by 1980 computers had taken their place as a critical business tool.
As the computer industry grew, companies such as IBM, NCR and other hardware manufacturers began looking for applications for their products beyond the desktop. One of those applications was self-service.
But making those applications practical required the development of software to make their use worthwhile, giving birth to the kiosk software industry.
“Alex initiated the beginning stages of that through his work in the basement of a building at Yale University during his attendance there,” Bowers said. “He was behind the effort to help self-service technology grow from a curiosity to practical applications.”
At the time, IBM was holding large symposiums on college campuses, and they were looking for ways to provide information to attendees about seminars and conferences that were happening in various buildings, so the company approached Richardson to begin working the initial concepts for a solution. Richardson then brought in merchandiser Frank Mayer and Associates to help bring the concept to fruition.
“So the first program we did with them was this university solution,” Bowers said. “It resided on a huge IBM desktop computer that had very limited capabilities, but it was extremely cutting edge; way ahead of its time.”
That proto-kiosk was keyboard-controlled and offered little in the way of user experience, but it was able to access and provide information, giving a hint of what was possible with a self-service device. A subsequent effort involved creating a program for the city of New York for applicants to access information about job availability and submit an application.
Expanding from there
The kiosk industry, like many other technology-based industries that depend on interactions with customers, is like a two-sided coin.
On the one side is the technology component, where a piece of hardware performs a specific function. On the other is the customer behavior component, or knowing what the customer is seeking and the motivation behind their decisions. Companies don’t always bring the two sides together.
Lexitech recognized that dichotomy, Bowers said.
“Most of the other software companies that came out of that university connection were more interested in database management,” Bowers said. “Lexitech was the first to really get the idea that as an enterprise solution (the kiosk) was going to have to fulfill expectations and meet a need arising out of the consumer’s ability to shop in multiple layers and what motivates them to purchase.”
Lexitech brought a different direction to software development. It was no longer simply just the number crunching for which computers had traditionally been used; it was data crunching for an enterprise solution that involved both the retailer and the consumer, offering insights about products, features, benefits, specs and so forth to inform and educate the consumer.
“That is bringing the consumer and the product and the retailer together, and then being able to access that information through some type of a device,” Bowers said. “Back then the device was a freestanding kiosk. “
In the early days of the industry, kiosks were typically boxy affairs that were custom-built for each application, with the software written specifically for that particular application. The software component alone could cost a deployer $100,000 or more.
Much of that changed with the entry of St. Clair Videotex Design into the software arena. The company was founded in 1982 by Doug Peter, whose background was in advertising, brand marketing and public relations.
“St. Clair evolved and grew out of a design/graphics support for a larger marketing company,” said Chris Peter.
“(My father) Doug Peter was tired of doing endless ad buys (billboards, tv spots, etc.) and was looking for a way to measurably market and interact with consumers/public,” he said. “He wanted a system that was not only not intimidating but appealing to use, with real measurable results on the interaction that could be actioned on.”
St. Clair Videotex Design eventually evolved into St. Clair Interactive. At the time, kiosks were beginning to gain traction in the marketplace and seeing wider deployments, though the infrastructure, software and hardware solutions were painfully limited.
“Doug offered another perspective very similar to what Alex did at Lexitech,” Bowers said.
“He brought in the disciplines of advertising marketing and marketing strategy to the software,” he said. “I don’t use this term lightly, but I believe Alex was a genius for his time and place and what he brought into the mainstream because it did not exist before he did it. The same thing was true with Doug and his team.”
Peter brought in a different way of thinking, a different way of developing and a different way of presenting fact-based services to GUI and self-service merchandising, Bowers said, and that accomplished a number of goals. It helped build a brand for the retailer, and from a consumer standpoint, it began to offer them new and exciting ways to shop.
“It was growing by leaps and bounds because now it was bringing into the fold new strategies of inventory management, new strategies for introducing loyalty programs and managing and measuring sales promotions,” Bowers said.
In addition to bringing that advertising sensibility into kiosk software, Peter accomplished something equally important, developing a solution that would help reshape the industry.
“What allowed us to flourish and grow was that we didn’t just provide one niche solution (which was the general approach then, build out your solution, then sell it),” Chris Peter said.
“After we’d done our seventh Gift Registry solution, we realized that we could ‘template’ solutions,” he said. “Even the niche players had extensive professional service and customization costs associated with deployments, so we built out the base solution for solutions like Gift Registry, Catalog Shopping and so forth as well as Operations and Content Management tools that could control all of the base templates. This allowed our sales approach to become ‘what would you like to do’ instead of ‘here’s what it can do’, and I believe this was very successful for St. Clair.”
The corporate shift
Lexitech and St. Clair interactive weren’t the only software companies in the early days of the kiosk industry, although they were certainly two of the most influential. KioWare, PROVISIO (Sitekiosk) and others were also early entrants into the world of kiosk software.
“There was another company called Rocky Mountain Multimedia run by Dave Heyliger and Degasoft/Kudos,” said Nigel Seed, who served as the CEO of NetShift Software. “So those were some of the key competitors in that era.”
RMM was the first and only software application (Kiosk in a Box) that shipped as bonus software with every Elotouch touchscreen monitor. RMM still sells and ships its Pro Version.
Several of the largest companies to start the industry were companies like ATCOM/Info which ruled with their internet access pyramid, North Communications, Marcole Gift Registry, King Product, NeoProducts and more. Here is a list of companies by Frost and Sullivan n late 90s. Old Companies PDF and worth noting that several are current members of the Kiosk Industry Assocation (Gibco, TouchSource, Elotouch, USA Tech, KIOSK Information Systems and DynaTouch.
And following in the footsteps of Apple’s iconic “1984” Super Bowl commercial, many of those companies were small, scrappy players on the forefront of technological development.
“Going down memory lane, a company that comes to my mind as one of the first and main players for kiosk software was KioskLogix and their Netstop software,” said Heinz Horstmann, CEO of PROVISIO, the company behind SiteKiosk.
“When others were still in the beginning stages of kiosk development they had developed a software product for pay-per-use and other kiosks and public Windows computers that was available as canned download software which was easy to install and configure,” Horstmann said. “Netstop was one of the first kiosk software products that was successful on a national and international level.”
But as often happens in any emerging industry, large corporate concerns began looking at what those small players were doing and made decisions that would ultimately end up killing off many of the early entrants.
“I think all of us thought our customers would want to license a robust piece of commercial software,” Seed said. “To my horror I found a lot of the companies I was dealing with trying to license my software took a look at what we did and decided they could do it themselves.”
In addition, in the late 1990s Lexitech secured a patent on aspects of its kiosk software and began aggressively seeking to assert its rights under the patent. Some companies ended up folding, while others agreed to pay Lexitech a licensing fee. [You can still buy software today which bears the Netkey patent].
“Because of that, there was this poisonous aspect to the early start of the business that really didn’t help anyone in the end,” Seed said.
So as the industry began to take shape, it went through its ups and downs and some of the smaller players couldn’t hang on through the droughts. Others depended on specific hardware, some wanted control of the content, and some solutions didn’t integrate with other store systems, and so forth.
“As it has always been, the kiosk market was very feast or famine,” said Chris Peter. “Attending Kiosk Com and other shows, it was always a surprise to see who was new this year, and who wasn’t here from the year before.”
And in the eyes of many experts, the golden years for kiosk software developers were over after pay-per-use kiosks and public PCs became obsolete in North America and Europe, Horstmann said.
Many of those early players are gone, although some, such as KioWare and PROVISO, still survive and even thrive. Lexitech, which Alex Richardson renamed Netkey in 2000, was acquired by NCR in 2009. St. Clair Interactive, which won “Best Kiosk Software” awards for several years throughout its existence, is still operating, although in a much smaller form.
The widespread adoption of smartphones and the prevalence of their accompanying apps has certainly changed the direction of the kiosk industry, although kiosks continue to have a key role in the marketplace.
“If you ride the train every day you’re going to you’re going to use your mobile application to purchase the ticket,” said Bryan Fairfield, CEO of kiosk and digital signage software provider Nanonation.
“If you only ride it once a month, you’re probably not going to download their app,” Fairfield said. “In those cases, you might use an interactive (kiosk).”
Today, software has changed from the custom monolith model of companies such as St. Clair and Lexitech to more vertically and niche-oriented software, with many applications now based in the cloud. Devices that once were problematic, such as cash recyclers and kiosk printers, are now addressable via the network. Connected devices.
With the emergence of Chrome OS, the large base of windows legacy devices running on the Intel platform are finding new life. And many of the kiosks being deployed today are tablet-based, making mobile device management increasingly important.
Subscription-based cloud services are becoming increasingly popular to get set up and running fast and to avoid high IT infrastructure costs for self-service and interactive digital signage deployments.
And now we audibly and verbally talk to a cloud-based AI to hear the latest weather and find out “where’s my stuff” orders. Amazon Alexa and Google Home are becoming the interface.
“The focus continues to be on the cloud and how well kiosk software developers will be able to remotely deliver a tailored user experience for different industries,” Horstmann said. “Kiosk software solutions have to provide more than just security features and peripheral device support but also advanced remote management, monitoring and cloud-based content management solutions for a growing number of devices like tablets and interactive displays. “
Customers also have higher expectations for kiosk software in terms of scalability and ease-of-use, Horstmann said. Many companies are not willing to go through a lengthy setup and configuration process.
And today rather than having to write to some closed-door standards from the IBMs and NCRs of the world via NRF committees, we utilize the cloud with Html5 and JSON tying devices together on the Internet. The old giants just try to keep up. POS and self-order application development cycles are measured in days and months, not years anymore.
Hardware is no longer restricted to the stock Dell corporate PC with a 4:3 touchscreen. Kiosks now offer widescreen displays, tablets, content management, remote management and power over ethernet (POE) and the cloud. Forget big computers and requirements for USB always. Even Windows is becoming less important. All types of traffic analysis methods, authentication and beacons for realt time location. And then there is speech.
Jim Kruper of KioWare notes, “As far as software direction goes we see it heading in the direction of IOT which is really saying that kiosks will be connecting to a much more broader universe of devices. In addition, we see security features using biometrics finally becoming more mainstream as well as video technology that uses emotion detection and AI to drive user interaction.”
“Technology is changing every quarter,” Bowers said.
“New capabilities are becoming available and integrating with devices such as touch screens kiosks,” he said. “The important factor is it’s no longer the devices; it’s no longer kiosks or touch screens or digital signs. It’s the experience that comes out of the utilization of hardware; this retail marketing strategy which is much more effective much more insightful and much easier to respond to the changing interests and habits of today’s connected consumer.”
Hi Craig – thanks for the trip down memory lane! The industry certainly has morphed and expanded over the years, it’s fascinating to see who is still viable as a provider, and who has fallen by the wayside.
In some ways, what we used to think of as “kiosk software” providing services to the public became “apps” on a smart phone giving access to an individual. Same workflow, just very different form factors. Yet, there are certain use cases where public access kiosk remains the best option for delivering information or automated service to the widest possible audience.
Hope things are well, keep up the good work! – Bob Ventresca (OG kiosk software dinosaur)
How using the latest innovative software and products can save clients time and expense
As the Creative Director at Frank Mayer and Associates, Inc., a big perk of my job is staying immersed in the tech world and discovering the latest software and products developing at rapid speed.
With an unending catalog of options available, it’s an exciting task to curate the programs we use to benefit our clients. Below is a sampling of tools we employ to better serve our customers with their point-of-purchase projects.
Unreal Engine 4
In the not so distant past, creating a video to stage a client’s display would require days, or even weeks, of work carefully piecing together each frame. Unreal Engine 4 has completely revolutionized the presentation landscape. Now, we can create instantaneous renderings at any size and resolution and can make modifications that don’t require large time commitments.
Originally developed as a software for first-person shooter games, the earliest development of Unreal Engine was significant because the program supported “modding,” or allowing players to modify code, insert artwork, and more.
Fast forward nearly two decades, and the latest edition, Unreal Engine 4, continues to improve its capabilities as more industries outside of gaming find the program useful.
At the time of Unreal Engine 4’s release, I was exploring how to get our design models into virtual reality and saw this software as a perfect avenue. Not only does it offer a great physically-based material creation kit that allows designers to quickly craft true-to-life materials and finishes, but it also has a blueprint system, which means I can make designs interactive without having to learn special coding.
So, what does this mean for our clients?
Unreal Engine 4 allows us to showcase their displays in real-time with superior quality graphics. Companies can view their designs as a fully representative 3D model on a desktop, or experience it in VR even before prototypes are built.
Interacting with a display can be an important undertaking before a client invests in the prototype phase. Virtual reality makes this possible.
Repurposing the same modeling/texturing/lighting work we did to create rendered images from Unreal Engine 4, virtual reality can simulate how a target audience will engage with various features. In this fully computer-generated world, clients can test their merchandising display by swiping a credit card, using a kiosk’s touchscreen, pulling product off a shelf, and much more.
This rich experience enables brands and retailers to document any immediate design or engineering modifications to their project, saving money and time before a prototype is created.
Sometimes you can’t beat seeing and feeling a physical replica or segment of a display. With our in-house 3D printing capabilities, we can provide a 3D visualization or proof of concept prototype components in a fraction of the time it takes to go through full engineering and traditional prototyping.
Often an image can go from a designer’s screen to a printed part in less than 24 hours, providing a fully visually and mechanically representative prototype on a greatly accelerated schedule.
Like virtual reality, offering 3D printing provides an opportunity to evaluate key components before moving on to the next stage of the process.
As with all new technology, it’s important to decipher the programs that will save on time and costs for both our business and the clients we serve. Along with the programs listed here, we strive to seek out the latest services to ensure our customers benefit from the newest innovation, and we look forward to what comes next.
Protect Yourself From Fraud and Identify Theft In 2018
Fraud protection. Unfortunately, we live in a time when identity theft and fraud are running rampant. Almost every month we hear of major security breaches, with companies like Yahoo, Uber, Equifax, and Dropbox all compromised. When these types of breaches occur, millions of usernames and passwords are hacked, often resulting in identity theft and fraud.
So what can you do to protect yourself in 2018? What steps can you take to ensure that you don’t get hacked?
We’re going to break down the how, what, and why of protecting yourself, touching on everything from your digital accounts to your bank account.
9 Steps To Protect Yourself From Identity Theft
Many times, identity theft starts with a digital breach. From there it often moves to bank accounts and credit cards, which can be an absolute nightmare. In order to protect yourself against these things, follow these ten steps.
#1 – Shred your documents
Don’t toss bank statements and credit card receipts in the trash. Destroy them using a cross-cut shredder or shredding service.
#2 – Strengthen your passwords
Use random combinations of letters, numbers, and special characters. Create different passwords for each account and alter them frequently. Alternatively, you can use a password manager like OnePass or Dashlane to create and manage all your passwords for you.
#3 – Check your credit reports
You’re entitled to one free credit report every year from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus. Request one report every four months and review it for suspicious or incorrect information. LINK TO CREDIT REPORT SERVICE
#4 – Guard your Social Security Number
Avoid sharing it when it’s not absolutely necessary, and don’t keep it, or your Social Security card, in your wallet. After all, this is typically a key identifier for many accounts.
#5 – Be smart about social media
It is smartest to leave personal details, such as your birthday or address, off your profiles. This information can be used in an effort to get you to click on malicious links. Utilize your privacy settings and be cautious about whom you accept as a connection.
#6 – Secure your phone
Lock your device with a password, turn off Bluetooth when you’re not using it, and be cautious when downloading apps — only download from sources you know and trust. Additionally, consider using end-to-end encrypted messaging apps such as WhatsApp.
#7 – Know the signs of phishing
Phishing is when a scammer creates a legitimate looking email or contact that is intended to steal personal for information. For example, you they may create a password reset email that looks like it’s from Google in an effort to get you to type in your password. Watch out for emails, links, or unsolicited phone calls asking for your personal information.
#8 – Monitor your financial statements
Report any suspicious activity in your bank accounts and credit card accounts as soon as you notice it. Many banks offer fraud protection apps that are worth investigating for another level of security. If your bank or credit-card company offers free online or mobile apps that will warn you of suspicious account activity as soon as it’s detected, sign up for them.
#9 – Keep your mail safe
Stealing your mail is one of the easiest ways for a thief to steal your identity. Consider using a locked mailbox or P.O.Box, and have the post office hold your mail if you go out of town. Additionally, shred any mail that could contain personal information such as credit card or bank statements.
These guidelines can help you keep sensitive information safe. Remember to be proactive to protect your personal information. These tips will be useless after your identity is stolen.
Fraud Alerts and Security Freezes
You can stop ID thieves before they cause damage by placing a security freeze on your credit reports at all three major credit bureaus: Equifax (www.equifax.com); Experian (www.experian.com); and TransUnion (www.transunion.com). Freezes will prevent identity thieves from looking at your credit report. To sign up for one, go to each bureau’s home page and locate the security-freeze link.
If you haven’t placed a security freeze on your accounts, and you spot a sign of identity theft, put an initial fraud alert on your credit report immediately. It is fast, free, stays in place for 90 days, and gives you extra legal protection. After that, request a security freeze.
Filing a fraud alert is appropriate anytime your identity information has been compromised, like when you lose your wallet, cell phone, or computer, or if your home or car is broken into. But you should also do it after more-subtle warning signs, such as finding unauthorized charges on your credit-card statement (even if quickly resolved) or failing to receive expected bills or mail.
Fraud alerts are free; security freezes typically cost $5 to $10 per person per credit bureau each time you place or temporarily lift one. Prices range from free to $20 depending on state law. But if you’re a victim of identity fraud, freezes are usually free. You can initiate a freeze online directly with each credit bureau; for fraud alerts, you only need to inform one bureau, which will pass the request on to the other two.
How Do I Protect My Identity For Free?
There are various services you can pay for that will actively protect your identity and let you know if something goes amiss. Lifelock is an example of a company like this.
And while using a theft protection agency can give you peace of mind, there are multiple things you can do yourself, at no cost, to help protect your identity:
Never give your Social Security number or other information to strangers who call, text, or send e-mail messages to you. Phony “phishing” e-mails can look like they came from your bank or your credit card company. Also, don’t write your Social Security number on checks (except those you send to the IRS), non-credit applications, or other forms. Treat your SSN as a sacred, secret piece of information.
Never keep sensitive information in easy-to-access places. For example, never put your computer passwords on an unprotected file on your computer. Also, don’t write them down and then put them in open places. For example, never put passwords on your computer monitor or under your keyboard.
Also, when choosing passwords, don’t use simple passwords like “password” or your first or last name.
Keep financial account statements, medical records, and tax filings in a secure place at home, especially if you let workers or others inside; shred documents when you no longer need them. Generally speaking, any sensitive records that you need to keep should be locked away.
Don’t post your birthday, mother’s maiden name, first pet’s name, or other personal information on websites like Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter. They’re often used to verify your identity and could grant an identity thief electronic access to your accounts.
If your bank or credit-card issuer offers free online or mobile alerts that will warn you of suspicious account activity as soon as it’s detected, sign up for them.
Finally, sign up for Credit Sesame’s credit monitoring service before you become a victim. Credit Sesame membership is 100% free, and no credit card is required to sign up. All Credit Sesame members get $50,000 in free identity theft insurance and live support through the process of identity restoration.
How Do You Prevent Credit Card Skimming?
A credit card skimmer is a portable capture device attached in front of or on top of a legitimate scanner. The skimmer passively records the card data as you insert your credit card into the real scanner.
Credit card thieves will often temporarily affix the card skimmer device to gas pumps, ATMs, or other convenient self-service point-of-sale terminals. Criminals like gas pumps and ATMs because it is easy to retrieve their skimmers and these places generally receive a lot of traffic.
Inspect the card reader and the area near the PIN pad as many banks and merchants realize that skimming is on the rise and will often post a picture of what the real device is supposed to look like. Of course, a card skimmer could put a fake picture over the real picture so this isn’t a fail-safe way to spot a skimmer.
Most skimming devices are temporarily affixed to the gas pump or ATM so they can be easily retrieved once they’ve collected cardholder data. If you think the scanning device doesn’t look like it matches the machine’s color and style, it could be a skimmer.
Unless skimmers are running a large operation, they are probably only skimming one gas pump at a time. Take a quick look at the pump next to yours to see if the card reader and setup look different. Trust your gut – if you are in doubt, use a different gas pump or ATM in another location.
Try to avoid using your PIN at the gas pump. Choose the credit option that allows you to avoid entering your PIN. Even if there is not a card skimmer camera in sight, someone could be watching you enter your PIN and subsequently mug you and take your card to the nearest ATM to withdraw some cash.
How Do I Protect My Financial Accounts?
Keeping tabs on every aspect of your financial life is critical to protecting your accounts and everything in them. Banks and other financial institutions also make mistakes all the time! Whether it’s a glitch in the system or simple human error — it can cause you big financial trouble without you realizing it. So here are some ways to protect your money — from system glitches and people both inside and outside the bank:
Check your accounts DAILY
It may seem kind of extreme, but it’s not — especially when it comes to fraud associated with a debit card and/or checking account. Monitoring your accounts daily will not only allow you to always have a good idea of what’s going on with your money, but it will also help you spot any potential fraudulent activity immediately.
Know your protections
Debit and credit cards come with very different protections under the law for you as a consumer. Here’s what you should know:
The definition of credit card fraud: If your credit card number is stolen, not the physical card, “you are not responsible for unauthorized charges under federal law,” according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
If the actual card is stolen, you are liable for no more than $50 in authorized charges — as long as you report it to your card issuer. Some issuers won’t even charge you the $50.
The definition of debit card fraud: If you report the card as lost or stolen within two business days, you won’t be responsible for more than $50 of unauthorized transactions. According to the CFPB, “if an unauthorized transaction appears on your statement (but your card or PIN has not been lost or stolen), under federal law you will not be liable for the debit if you report it within 60 days after your account statement is sent to you.”
If someone uses your physical ATM or debit card without your permission (meaning it was stolen) and you report the fraudulent charges within 60 days after your statement is mailed to you, you could lose as much as, but no more than, $500.
If someone uses your ATM or debit card without your permission and you don’t report it within 60 days after your statement is mailed to you, the potential damage is unlimited. You could lose all the money in that account, the unused portion of your maximum line of credit established for overdrafts, and even more.
Choose a financial institution with good customer service
Whether it’s a local bank, credit union, or multinational financial institution, find good customer service. The best places will always work with you to help get fraudulent charges or purchases off your account.
Never share your banking information with anyone
Don’t share any of your sensitive information via text, email, phone, social media, or any other app. If you ever receive a request to share your information, do not respond or provide any piece of information about yourself.
Use strong passwords & two-factor authentication
Two-factor authentication (sometimes called two-step authentication) requires you to take an extra step to authenticate who you are when you sign in or when you are doing a transaction.
Whatever the extra step is, opt in for it! It’s another layer of security for you and your money.
Don’t access your financial accounts from just anywhere
You should never log into your account — or any other account that contains your financial or card information — from an unsecured device or unprotected Wi-Fi network.
What Do You Do When Someone Steals Your Identity?
If you suspect identity theft, act immediately to minimize negative consequences:
Put a fraud alert and/or security freeze on your credit reports
A fraud alert puts a red flag on your credit report and notifies lenders and creditors that they should take extra steps to verify your identity before extending credit. Initial fraud alerts are free and remain in place for 90 days. In some cases, extended fraud alerts incur a small fee, but under most circumstances fraud alert services are free to victims of identity theft.
Another option is to place a security freeze on your credit reports. A freeze prevents creditors (except those with whom you already do business) from accessing your credit report(s) at all. Most new applications will automatically be declined because without access to your file, the creditor will have no way to evaluate your credit. Not every state allows credit freezes to be placed by consumers who are not victims of identity theft, but every state allows identity theft victims to freeze their files. Some states charge a fee to freeze the file, and another fee to thaw it.
Contact any institution directly affected
If you know your credit card was stolen, immediately report the theft to the credit card issuer. If your checkbook or debit card was stolen, contact your financial institution. Keep a list of what’s in your wallet, along with the contact information for each item.
Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
File an Identity Theft Affidavit and a police report and create an Identity Theft Report. You can file your report online, by phone (toll-free): 1-877-ID THEFT (877-438-4338); TDD (toll-free): 1-866-653-4261, or by mail — 600 Pennsylvania Ave., Washington DC 20580.
The FTC will provide you with information about what to do next, depending on the type of fraud.
File a police report
To complete the Identity Theft Report, you’ll need to contact your local police and report the theft. Be sure to get a copy of the police report and/or the report number. Both your police report and the FTC Identity Theft Affidavit combine to create your Identity Theft Report. Your Report is essential when working with the credit reporting agencies or any other entities the identity thief may have contacted to open accounts in your name.
Report the theft to the Social Security Administration
If your social security number has been stolen, contact the Social Security Administration (800-269-0271) and the Internal Revenue Service (800-829-0433). It’s important to talk to both agencies if you think your Social Security number has been compromised.
Contact the Post Office
If you have reason to believe the identity thief may have submitted a fraudulent change-of-address to the post office or has used the U.S. mail to commit the fraud against you, contact the Postal Inspection Service, which is the law enforcement and security branch of the post office, and fill out the necessary paperwork.
These are only the first few steps. Total recovery from identity theft is a long, drawn-out process.
How Do You Recover From Identity Theft?
Once you have discovered the fraud and taken the initial steps to freeze or protect your accounts, take a deep breath and begin to repair the damage. The first step is to close any new accounts opened fraudulently in your name. Then, work with your bank and creditors to remove fraudulent charges from your accounts. Next, contact the credit reporting agencies and have the errors corrected. Finally, think about adding an extended fraud alert or credit freeze on your accounts.
Depending on your situation, you might need to take additional steps. If your social security number was compromised, contact the Social Security Administration and report it. You also need to replace all of your government issued IDs.
One unpleasant task is keeping debt collectors from trying to collect on fraudulent debts.
Additionally, you may have to work with law enforcement and creditors for months to clear your name of any criminal charges due to the identity theft. For certain types of accounts, you might have to contact additional offices. These include utility companies, phone service providers, government benefit offices, student loans, accounts at other banks, rental landlords, your personal finance officer, and the courts if you have a bankruptcy filed in your name.
Keep Yourself Safe
In our technologically bound and increasingly digital world, identity theft has become a major racket. Be sure to stay safe by staying smart. Do everything you can at home to increase your security, but also be wary of public Wi-Fi spots, be on the lookout for skimmers, and keep an eye on all of your financial and credit records. If you become a victim of identity theft, be immediately proactive in reporting the fraud and work with law enforcement and the agencies to fix your credit.
Some Additional Thoughts
Segregate your online purchases on second card that is not tied to your main bank account.
Cash is a good option at new restaurants.
Rf shielding holders if out in public, traveling a lot.
Better passwords. Use a service like LastPass.
Stay up to date with patches.
Avoid loading financial banking apps on mobile Android.
Authenticate with fingerprint on phone (biometrics).
Look at card readers before you insert. Skimmers are very skilled.
Don’t run windows unless you have to.
Avoid writing ssn on documents. Health documents are the worst and most often breached.
Interactive touchscreens are quickly becoming a key player in the kiosk world. Businesses ranging from fast-casual restaurants to health care facilities and mall makeup stores are finding uses for touchscreen-based kiosks, offering services ranging from food ordering to patient check-in to complexion matching.
The latest of the many reports forecasting the growth of the kiosk industry predicts the market will increase at a 9.7 percent compound annual growth rate, reaching $88.3 billion by 2022 from $46.1 billion in 2015. Drivers of that growth include increased customer’s interest towards self service, development in the retail and entertainment industries and innovations in touchscreen display and glass technology. The retail industry holds the lion’s share of the market, with about 40 percent of the overall revenue.
The growth of touchscreen-based self service hasn’t been without its challenges, though. Foremost among them has been the issue of making that technology available to all users, including those with disabilities. Another has been the expanded form factors such as tablets on the low end and large 85-inch touchscreens on the high side. That’s a shift from the mostly 17-inch and 19-inch screens that dominate the ATM, airline and POS self-checkout precursor worlds.
The compliance conundrum
The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that about 19 percent of the country’s population, or about 57 million people, have some form of disability. Those include 8.1 million people who have difficulty seeing, including 2 million who were blind or unable to see. In addition, about 7.6 million people have impaired hearing. Roughly 30.6 million have problems walking or climbing stairs, or use a wheelchair, cane, crutches or walker, and 19.9 million people had challenges lifting and grasping. This includes difficulty lifting an object or grasping a pencil (or pressing buttons on a touchscreen interface).
To ensure those with disabilities can enjoy the same rights as everyone, in 1990 Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The law was designed to afford protections against discrimination similar to those of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the ADA prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in several areas, including employment, transportation, public accommodations, communications and access to state and local government programs and services.
For a business that incorporates kiosks into its operations, that generally means that a kiosk needs to be useable by all of its customers, no matter what their physical challenges may be. In many cases meeting that standard is easier said than done.
“ADA concerns are pretty much the same concerns that one would have for any type of a consumer self-service interactive solution,” said Ron Bowers, senior vice president of business development at Grafton, Wisconsin-based kiosk vendor Frank Mayer & Associates. “Some individual deployments are only adhering to the accessibility-by-wheelchair aspect.”. “Some individual deployments are only adhering to the accessibility-by-wheelchair aspect.”
Unfortunately, those basic accommodations can result in a business overlooking more than 35 million potential customers.
It’s worth noting that a large percentage of customers in wheelchairs also suffer from physical impairment.
Some of the biggest challenges kiosk deployers face is the degree of interpretation that must be applied to some of the regulations. How many accessible units and what level of accessibility constitutes acceptable access? Another is new regulations and retrofitting existing units can be problematic, said Craig Keefner, manager for Olea Kiosks.
“Complicating retrofits can be the issue of recertifying for UL,” Keefner said. “One change to the overall machine can require the new configuration to be recertified. If Walmart has to change all of its self-checkouts, that’s a big change.”
To help add clarity to exactly what kiosk deployers must do to be ADA compliant, in mid-September the Architectural and Transportation Barriers and Compliance Board released a final rule for electronic and information technologies used by federal agencies as well as guidelines for customer premises equipment and telecommunications equipment, including kiosks. The Access Board is an independent federal agency devoted to accessibility for people with disabilities.
A sample of the guidelines for kiosks outlined in the Access Board rule
In general, devices with a display screen shall be speech-output enabled for full and independent use by individuals with vision impairments.
Speech output shall be provided for all information displayed on-screen.
Where speech output is required, braille instructions for initiating the speech mode of operation shall be provided.
Devices that deliver sound, including required speech output, shall provide volume control and output amplification.
At least one mode of operation shall be operable with one hand and shall not require tight grasping, pinching, or twisting of the wrist. The force required to activate operable parts shall be 5 pounds (22.2 N) maximum.
The final rule is listed in the Federal Register. Covered organizations must meet compliance standards by Jan. 18, 2018.
Although much of the language in the final rule will likely keep lawyers busy for years to come, there are some guidelines that are easy to interpret. In general, the rules say that the technology with a display screen shall be speech-output enabled for full and independent use by individuals with vision impairments. Input controls shall be operable by touch and tactilely discernible without activation.
Running the risk
Missing out on revenue from millions of customers with disabilities is just one of the pitfalls of not complying with ADA regulations, or at least making every effort to make sense of the standards.
For violations that occurred after April 28, 2014, the maximum civil penalty for a first violation of ADA regulations is $75,000. For a subsequent violation, the maximum civil penalty is $150,000.
In addition, self-service kiosks are increasingly a target for ADA lawsuits. In March 2017, for example, the American Council of the Blind filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against fast casual restaurant chain Eatsa on behalf of a blind customer. Under Eatsa’s business model, customers order from tablet-based kiosks and pick up their food from a cubicle when it’s ready.
Customer Michael Godino claims he was unable to use a self-order kiosk in an Eatsa to place an order because the kiosks weren’t accessible for blind customers.
“Because the self-service mobile applications, touchscreen tablets, and visually-marked cubbies Eatsa utilizes rely on exclusively visual displays and do not provide any form of audio output or tactile input, Eatsa’s design is entirely inaccessible to blind customers,” according to the lawsuit.
Restaurants aren’t the only businesses open to ADA lawsuits. A proposed class action suit against mall operator Simon Property Group claims a Proactiv skincare products kiosk, located in the Simon-run Miami Mall in Florida, discriminates against blind and visually impaired individuals. The lawsuit argues the Proactiv automated retail kiosk, which uses a touchscreen display, doesn’t offer a way for blind consumers to purchase its products.
“Sighted customers can independently browse, select, and pay for Proactiv brand skincare products at the Miami Mall Proactiv kiosk. However, blind customers are denied the opportunity to participate in this retail service,” the complaint reads. “Moreover, [the defendant] has failed to provide an alternative channel for blind customers to enjoy the retail service provided through the Proactiv kiosk, such as the training of qualified readers to assist visually impaired and blind customers.”
There are about 1,000 Proactiv kiosks in malls in the United States, Canada and Japan.
And just in case a business operator thinks having a staff member on hand to assist disabled customers with using self-service technology, chances are that’s not enough to keep from running afoul of the ADA.
“It depends on the application and if the assistant is as available as the kiosk to provide services,” said Adam Aronson, CEO of San Rafael, Calif.-based Lilitab Tablet Kiosks. Lilitab designs, engineers and markets a range of tablet kiosk products. “If the cashier typically has longer lines than the kiosk, that’s not the same service level,” Aronson said.
While lawsuits against kiosk deployers related to ADA compliance are always a concern, other dangers include the negative publicity from being perceived as a business that is insensitive to the needs of disabled customers. Just a few months ago cable news was filled images of U.S. Capital Police forcibly removing disabled demonstrators from a protest over the Senate’s now-defunct health care bill. Nobody wants their business to be featured in similar reporting.
Of course, things are rarely simple when it comes to government regulations and the ADA is no different. Complicating the landscape is HR 620, the “ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017,” currently making its way through Congress. According to the Center for American Progress the bill, sponsored by Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas), would require anyone seeking to file a lawsuit against a business for ADA violations to first provide written notice to that business, outlining the provisions of the law that apply to the violation. Business owners would then have 60 days to acknowledge the violation and another 120 days to at least make “substantial progress” towards rectifying it.
Opponents of the bill claim it would gut enforcement of the ADA by allowing businesses to stall the correction of violation for months or years, while those in favor say it would prevent the “drive-by lawsuits” that end up forcing business owners to pay settlements to lawyers who make a career out of filing ADA suits. The ADA bars the awarding of monetary damages in successful lawsuits, but does allow the awarding of “a reasonable attorney’s fee.”
Meeting the challenge
In an effort to sort through the confusion over ADA guidelines, kiosk deployers are taking their own steps to accommodate disabled users.
The easiest steps to take are those that offer access to individuals in wheelchairs or who are otherwise vertically challenged. That includes offering at least one kiosk with an adjustable height or a lower point of access.
“Swiveling mounts or adjustable height mounts may assist in accessibility – but they don’t solve the problem just by being available,” said Laura Miller, director of marketing with York, Pa.-based KioWare Kiosk Software.
“The physical placement of the kiosk is just as important as the presence of accessibility features and testing is needed even with the purchase of an accessible kiosk,” she said. “If the path to the kiosk is too narrow to approach head on, for instance, it becomes moot that the kiosk itself is accessible because getting to the kiosk is too challenging or the space too constricted. Vertical and horizontal reach must be considered.”
As mentioned earlier, though, making the kiosk available to those in a wheelchair isn’t enough.
“No longer can you get away with a kiosk just being ‘reachable’,” said Frank Olea, CEO of Cerritos, Calif.-based Olea Kiosks. “Most companies will say their product is ADA compliant, but they fail to mention they’ve only covered a very small spectrum of individuals with disabilities. Sure, someone in a wheelchair can reach the screen, but serving people with disabilities goes far beyond that.”
As demonstrated by the Eatsa scenario, one of the biggest challenges in deploying interactive self-service technology is accommodating visually impaired users. A touchscreen relies heavily on users being able to see the screen, so deployers need to find ways to communicate that information in other ways.
“Without access to speech feedback for on screen contents and a method for determining what item the user is activating, a person who is blind or visually impaired cannot effectively make use of a touchscreen or tablet based kiosk,” said staff at the American Foundation for the Blind.
“For those with low vision, small or ornate fonts are difficult, if not impossible, to read,” AFB officials said. “Low contrast between the foreground and background can also make on-screen and print-labeled items difficult to read.”
In addition, glare on the screen and on any print-labeled areas of the machine can cause readability barriers for people with low vision, the AFB said.
“What I advise people to do is to recreate a version of the kiosk software that can be used by people with visual problems,” said Mike James, CEO of Washington D.C.-based Kiosk Group Inc.
“Information can be presented in large text and contrasting colors for people who are marginally blind, and to have a system for audio feedback for those who are completely blind,” James said. Those prompts can be used in conjunction with Braille keyboards to assist with navigation.
Accommodating users with hand mobility issues is a concern as well. An ‘Automated Passport Solution’ Olea built for deployment in the Dallas Fort Worth Airport incorporates the Nav-Pad, a keypad designed by London-based Storm Interface that provides accessibility to a kiosk’s functions for those with physical or sensory impairments. The APS kiosk shortens the clearance process for international travelers by collecting biographical and passport information from passengers before they are seen by a customs officer.
The Nav-Pad, developed in partnership with the Trace Research & Development Center, was originally designed for use in military and industrial applications where the user might be wearing heavy gloves. One of the pioneers in the space, Storm Interface also offers the Audio-Nav Keypad, an assistive USB device offering menu navigation by means of audio direction.
The work continues
As ADA compliance becomes a bigger and bigger issue for hardware manufacturers, software developers and kiosk deployers, a variety of industry groups are working to develop solutions that can meet the needs of disabled users.
The Kiosk Industry Association, for example, has formed an ADA working group and committee expressly for ADA to try and standardize guidelines for the industry. A big initiative for the association is meeting with the US Access Board directly to help communicate industry information and context to the standards body directly.
Other organizations with ADA initiatives include the Electronic Transactions Association, which has also formed a working group. The ETA represents more than 500 companies worldwide involved in electronic transaction processing products and services, working to influence, monitor and shape the payments industry by providing leadership through education, advocacy and the exchange of information.
“The purpose of the group is to promote compliance and the development and deployment of products and services to help ensure access to the payment system,” said Meghan Cieslak, ETA’s director of communications. “The group is comprised of industry experts, start-ups, as well as ISOs and VARs – all focused on helping disabled Americans access the payment system.”
The Kiosk Industry Association is consulting with the ETA on access initiatives and has also enlisted the assistance of the ATM Industry Association which already has a formal ADA document via EFTA for their members.
It’s also critical for deployers to think about accessibility from the very beginning of a kiosk project. A paper co-authored by Peter Jarvis and Nicky Shaw, both from Storm Interface, along with Robin Spinks from the U.K.’s Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) included the following recommendations:
“Accessibility is most effectively achieved when adopted as a primary system specification,” the group wrote.
“It is most successfully implemented if considered during the concept design process,” they wrote. “Accessibility should be a primary objective during the origination of hardware solutions, application software and content to be delivered.”
In addition, consideration should also be given to the environment in which the system will be installed, they wrote, and that terminals located in public or unsupervised environments will need to survive regular cleaning and sanitization procedures using sprayed liquid disinfectants and other cleaning agents.
Along with providing hardware designed for accessibility, the application or website on the kiosk must be built with more than a cursory nod toward compliance in order to have these other components “work” in a successful and accessible deployment. The kiosk system software can utilize accessibility features and the hardware can provide sound, include keyboards and be height adjustable, but if the application isn’t built with accessibility in mind, or modified to make sure accessibility features are fully integrated, usability and accessibility will suffer for it.
These concerns, and others, are driving the various partnerships on ADA issues.
“It was pretty much a no-brainer for us to go ahead and work together on standardizing,” Keefner said.
“I’ve been really passionate about it and I’ve talked to kiosk manufacturers about binding together to create standards on kiosk design so people who walk up to a kiosk know where to find the audio jack, know where to find the braille keyboard or whatever,” said Kiosk Group’s Mike James. “Those features could be the same for every project.”
Unfortunately, despite the additional clarification on access rules it’s likely that in the short term it’s likely that many compliance issues are likely to be hashed out in court.
“It seems that there are a few people out there who have made it their job to litigate any non-ADA-compliant situations that arise,” Miller said. “This is not exclusive to kiosks, but they have not been completely spared, and while it seems relatively obscure at this point, those individuals looking for violations will likely eventually hit on the existence of kiosks as fodder for their litigious pursuits.”
I wanted to congratulate you both on an excellent and informativearticle. Thank you for helping to bring the importance of ADA and ACAA mandates to the attention of the Kiosk Industry and to those agencies deploying and operating ICT in public environments. Thanks also for recognizing Storm Interface in the text of the article and for including some of those images showing deployed installations. We are constantly working to improve and add to the range of accessibility and assistive technology products available to kiosk designers. There are some exciting new developments in process which will help to deliver the “multi-modal” methods of system interface that are widely predicted to be the next big step in system accessibility. The priority will be to ensure our partners in the kiosk industry are kept aware of and fully supported in the deployment of Assistive Technology Products (ATP).
Hopefully your article will receive the recognition it deserves and I will have an opportunity to work with you both to maintain awareness of accessibility issues within the kiosk industry.
Editors Note : Article for Kiosk Industry by Francie Mendelsohn of Summit Research Associates. Francie is highly respected industry consultant with many years of experience and we are pleased to publish a new article by her. Thanks to Richard Slawsky for serving as editor.
When Summit Research Associates began testing kiosks more than 20 years ago, many of the usability issues we encountered were attributable to the hardware available at the time. Kiosks allowing customers to create their own greeting cards, for example, depended upon pen-plotters to complete the task! (Affordable color laser printers had not yet been invented.) No wonder people got tired of waiting for their custom designs to be completed only to be exasperated by the quality of the finished card because the ink colors ran out unevenly.
Today, many of those deterrents are long gone. The power of the microprocessors running the kiosks have increased exponentially, the Internet is robust and reliable, people are no longer intimidated by keyboards and—because of the widespread use of smartphones and tablets—touchscreens are second nature to almost everyone.
Self-checkout kiosks have been a long-established segment of the kiosk industry. First deployed at grocery stores, they are now a common sight at stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s.
Not all installations have been successful, though. IKEA pulled their units from all US-based stores several years ago because of constant failures, especially in the use of the hand-held scanner. This peripheral is a requirement when checking out the huge boxes containing many of the install-it-yourself products at the home furnishings chain. The tethered scanner was used to read the bar code but it was very fussy; customers either held the device too close to the bar code or too far away. The result: the item was not scanned successfully.
As a result, it was common to observe frustrated customers loading everything back into their shopping cart and finding another kiosk to use. The instructions on the touchscreen never provided even a hint as to where to place the scanner for successful “reading.”
In addition, IKEA did not give customers any choice; you either had to use the kiosks or walk away empty-handed. All the checkout lines consisted of a kiosk, with none staffed by a human being. They also had few store employees nearby to help confused customers complete their purchase.
Unfortunately, a number of kiosks deployed today continue to disappoint and frustrate users. What may look like hardware issues are actually software deficiencies. In this article we will look at two Self-Checkout kiosk deployments, illustrating one that is highly successful and one that is anything but. Because we have long seen that would-be kiosk providers and users will remember the failures far more often than the successes, we will devote the bulk of the discussion to that less-than-successful deployment.
Johns Hopkins University self-checkout vending kiosk.
The Rockville, Md., campus of Johns Hopkins University consists of three buildings and shares space and parking with the National Institute of Health’s National Cancer Institute. A snack bar providing food such as hot and cold sandwiches, soups and beverages, chips, candy bars and other desserts was in operation for many years, but because much of the traffic flow was dependent upon the school schedule, it increasingly became a money-losing proposition and closed for good in Spring 2017.
Students and faculty were not pleased by this turn of events, complained frequently and resulted in management finally providing a solution.
In October, Baltimore-based Black Tie Services installed a series of refrigerated units and shelving in an alcove just off the communal dining area in the main building (Gilchrist Hall) to provide much of the food previously available at the snack bar. Called Bistro to Go!, it allows people to select (mostly) snack food and beverages and pay at the kiosk located near the middle of the space. Black Tie Services is part of Accent Food Services, a national organization that primarily deploys “Micro Markets” and sells hot beverages.
The food and beverages are attractively displayed but there are no prices shown. Accent offers an App, USConnectMe™ at many of their locations that allows customers to pay for their purchases, earn points and add value with a special enrolled card similar to the popular Starbucks card. This is indicated by a square red button near the lower right corner of the touchscreen.
The developers expect customers to scan the products they are buying to determine the price. The entire success (and failure) of the kiosk depends on that scanner. Unfortunately, until customers “get the hang of it,” the scanner either does not recognize the UPC or it scans the same item repeatedly. There are no helpful hints on the large touchscreen showing customers how close they need to be to allow the scanner to read the bar code. The scenario is very similar to what prompted IKEA to remove its kiosks. Because of these scanner issues, it is common to see people waiting in line to pay for their food during busy periods.
There is a closed-circuit camera that (hopefully) keeps customers honest. Still, the struggle customers experience trying to get the scanner to recognize the items they are purchasing is likely to promote dishonesty–unless other people are waiting to pay and offer to help.
The kiosk sports a large (approximately 11×16-inch) vertically-mounted touchscreen. Yet it does not include How-To instructions. Instead, the developers have placed a rugged plastic sign on the counter listing all the instructions. This is foolish. What if someone were to (deliberately or inadvertently) remove the sign? Then customers would have no idea how to proceed Furthermore, the sign is too low to the ground, making it difficult to read for anyone not in a wheelchair.
Most people will try (repeatedly) to pay for the food they have selected. They will scan their food, which then appears on the screen as a running total, just as a grocery store kiosk works. A very loud voice informs the purchaser (and everyone else nearby) the items that are being purchased. They are then asked to “Select a pay method.” This is unnecessary because the only payment method is via credit card.
The customer is shown an illustration of how to insert their credit card. Now look at the photo of the credit card reader itself.Is it any wonder that people are confused? There is an icon on the reader itself but it is low to the ground and black-on-black is hard to read.
That aforementioned red USConnectMe button is also the cause of much customer frustration at this location. It doesn’t work but people touch it anyway. (In fairness to the customer: how do they know it doesn’t work?) Instead, a screenful of information about loading value on to the card appears which serves to further confuse students. And it dramatically adds to the time it takes for a student to complete his transaction; it is not at all easy to return to the previous screen. I personally witnessed longer (than usual) lines to pay when someone touched this button. The designers should adhere to our long-held rule: if a button is not relevant, REMOVE IT!
Finally, the customer is asked if he/she would like a receipt with large square buttons indicating Yes (green button) or No (red button). When I used the kiosk, I selected Yes, but never received the receipt. There was no way of knowing if the printer was out of paper or was simply malfunctioning.
Because of the many deficiencies listed, the kiosk leaves the user with an unpleasant taste (no pun intended) but if a student is hungry and has no alternative, they will put up with it and keep on trying until they are successful.
These micro-markets have the potential to resolve several problems in food services. None of the current usability issues are deal-breakers. Some common-sense software modifications should be made and will go a long way towards ensuring a successful deployment. Once the units are fine-tuned and made more user-friendly, they will achieve the desired results.
Harris-Teeter Self-Checkout Kiosks
The self-checkout kiosks at Harris-Teeter supermarkets generally work well and shoppers frequently wait in line to use them, even when manned checkout lines are lacking any customers. The 245-store chain is a subsidiary of Kroger and has been making significant inroads in the Greater Washington, D.C. area. Even though there are no signs alerting shoppers to their presence, people enjoy the convenience and generally acceptable functionality of the devices and happily wait their turn to use one. The store features six units, with two banks of three facing each other. A full-time employee is stationed in front of one bank of units.
These types of kiosks will be familiar to anyone who has visited a grocery store over the past few years. They are fast, quite easy to use and do not require much in the way of instructions. The software interface is mostly self-explanatory. The scanner works exceptionally well and is infinitely more reliable than the small unit found on Bistro to Go!
The only problem? Sometimes the prices are incorrect, sale prices have not been updated into the system, and keying in the 4-digit code for produce can sometimes result in errors. These problems are almost always quickly resolved, thanks to the proximity of the store employee.
Payments are made at a separate unit located a few inches from the touchscreen and the well-designed images show how to scan or insert a credit card or pay with cash. The units are outfitted with several expensive peripherals, including the high quality/super-sensitive Toledo-Mettler scales embedded in the bagging area.
The importance of using high-end components can’t be stressed enough. These types of kiosks receive a tremendous amount of use and shoddy peripherals will result in inoperable units which quickly leads to unhappy customers. Whole Foods tried self-checkout units a few years ago but they failed so frequently that frustrated customers avoided them and the project was cancelled. It remains to be seen whether new owner Amazon will try deploying them again.
History has shown that the kiosk costs are more than offset by the number of employees the retailer no longer has to employ. Furthermore, customers love them and are convinced that the process is faster than if they had used a human checker. That is not true, but to quote an adage: perception is reality.
The past few years have shown just how popular self-checkout kiosks can be. Just make sure that they work consistently and do not cause customer unhappiness or frustration. Harris-Teeter has the winning formula. Bistro to Go! at Johns Hopkins could enjoy the same results with some fairly easy modifications.